Image Really is Everything

Chill Button /noun/: The imaginary button inside your head that stops you in your tracks from saying or doing things that are offensive to others or will cause your character to be judged negatively. These often hilarious or condescending comments or acts are usually provoked, warranted, and necessary, but failure to push this button in a timely manner may harm only you in the long run. ~@1st.Noelle

The best advice I’ve ever gotten (next to “buy stainless steel pots”)…


History: Before every family holiday gathering, my boyfriend would stop me at the door, hold both of my hands, look at me sternly, and say “Noëlle, you do not have to say everything that you’re thinking. Even if you’re 100% right”. As if! After many years of witnessing my mouth get me into trouble and having to bring me back down to earth, he knew me well. I have maybe been told a time or seventy that my “chill button” could use a tune-up.

This lesson has taken on new life as of late. As I embark on my bookstore journey, my personal brand and my relationships with the public, my future employees, and prospective business partners are at the forefront of my thoughts before I put anything out into the world. Not that I had any videos of me twerking on Instagram before my revelation; I am just more conscious of how things I say and do are perceived. Based on my results, I am extending this same advice to you.

Usually, this is the point where I hear (and have said a couple of) the following…

  • “This is my page; if you don’t like it, unfollow me… quietly”
  • “I pay all of my own bills; I’ll say what I want.”
  • “I posted it because I liked it or thought it was funny, not because I’m going through it.”
  • “It would be doing him/her an injustice if I didn’t correct/expose that.”
  • “I’m not the type of person/I wasn’t raised to hold my tongue for anyone.” And my favorite…
  • “Social media isn’t real life. I shouldn’t be judged by what we all know is a fantasy world.”

Now all of these statements in defense of speaking/posting negatively, overtly sexually, fabrications of your real life (or by contrast, bragging), and everything that comes to mind is absolutely true. Your audience does have the option to exit your social media pages (or life) while you carry on throwing your Tupac middle finger in the air. The point that I was missing once upon a time is that I was restricting myself more than I was offending anyone… all for a couple of laughs or to “fix” people who were irreparable. I’m not telling anyone to change themselves (because I’m definitely still thinking “it” and love me a good “b*tches be like…”); what I’m saying is grow the hell up and hit your chill button sometimes. Google this: “Dave Chappelle’s When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong” for a hilarious and great illustration of my point. Reality is…

  • People will forget what you say, but they’ll never forget the way you made them feel. You will end up pushing people away if you’re constantly correcting them or judging them harshly. While constructive criticism is a form of love, you can save yourself a lot of frustration and animosity directed towards you if you just learn to hit your chill button. Save your tough love for people who have a history of valuing and applying it.
  • There’s a fine line between Beyoncé and Gwyneth Paltrow. Being proud and a source of inspiration can quickly turn into being out of touch and ostracizing your audience. I’m not going to give a lecture on bragging here, because there’s always going to be someone-who wasn’t designed to make it-that will always categorize you a “show-off” simply because your happiness and success is out of reach for them. Just be honest with yourself about your intentions when you share certain information about yourself. Be an uplifting person.
  • Social media becomes the real world when people in your real world come across it. Millennials have learned the hard way that security the way our parents and grandparents knew it is a thing of the past. If you didn’t know, you’d better get on the entrepreneurial path for even a shot at security or becoming rich. (If you’re content with being average, you can stop reading here.) You are your business and social media is your presentation to the world. The amount of followers and ‘likes’ I have from people of particular demographics are actual selling points on my business plan that go to banks and landlords. Bashing an ex, a bad client, or job may ruin a potential romantic or business relationship before it even begins. People will wonder if you’d humiliate them too if things went south between you. If there’s a constant theme of loneliness, bitterness, attention seeking, etc. in your posts (no matter how funny, factual, or aesthetically appealing), people who could bring value to your life will steer clear of that type of energy. After all “all good jokes contain true sh*t (~J Cole)” and you have to connect to it on some level to find it funny or feel so compelled that you had to go beyond ‘liking’ it and actually share it.

Now–like my mother always says “do as I say and not as I do”. Yes, the girl who reposted a “Clubs are so overrated. I’d rather be home baking cookies and sucking d*ck.” meme wrote this article. Lol, I couldn’t resist! It was inappropriately appropriate for my personal brand because 1. I promote social activities of substance over clubbing to my demographic 2. my business model includes a similar shock value in it’s advertising, and 3. I do not care to attract anyone who doesn’t get it. What’s important is that I can afford not to. Everyone will strike their own balance of “image is everything” and non-conformity that aligns with their long-term goals.

Consistency is key! Decide who it is you want to be and portray it in your character and in every forum that represents you.

~1st Noëlle

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